Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Tryson vs Sulumani Chimbetu feud unpacked

Mtandazo Dube and Prince Mushawevato

Is the feud between Tryson and Sulumani real or imagined? Is it a media creation? Sulu’s father, Simon, and Tryson’s father, Naison, both late, were brothers — making Sulu and Tryson cousins, and African tradition deems them broth­ers.

Sulumani and Tryson Chimbetu
Sulumani and Tryson Chimbetu

The signs of a simmering feud first emerged when Sulu mooted banning Tryson from playing the late Simon Chimbetu’s (Sulu’s father) music – although no action was really taken. But “real” proof of the war seemed to be the snub by Tryson to play at Simon’s memorial gala in Chinhoyi in August.

Then came the [email protected] birthday bash, where it was widely touted that “Dendera United” would perform. Instead, Sulu took to the stage early on during the show at the Glamis Arena, and Tryson came onto stage later on.

They both later joined Oliver Mtukudzi towards midnight after the superstar invited the two to do a song with him.

Months before the Chinhoyi snub, Tryson had gone on stage at a gala in Chipinge, where he went on to perform most of the songs from Simon’s playlist, songs which Sulu had most likely rehearsed for performance on the same night. So when Sulu went on stage, it was almost like a re-do of the Tryson set.

Just to re-jog the memory, when Alick Macheso started touring the country with Tryson, it is a move that might not have tickled Sulu much, more so when some members of Sulu’s band left for Tryson’s Marxist Brothers, a move which on paper appeared like it had been sponsored by Macheso.

So it was with little surprise that at the turn of this year, a number of Orchestra Mberikwazvo backing boys, notably Franco “Slomo” Dhaka and Elton Muropa, were to leave for Sulu’s Orchestra Dendera Kings.

When you are killing a snake, you hit the head, most of the time.

“If Macheso feels that I have wronged him, then it is regrettable because I envy him. I have even practised his bass guitars — you should hear me play Madhawu. I await an opportunity to join him on stage one day,” said Sulu last week.

Sulu, however, insists that there is no bad blood between him and Tryson or any of his family mem­bers. “Let me call and invite him over for lunch,” said Sulu, dialing Tryson’s number, saved as Dr Nero with an accom­panying picture in his cell­phone.

When that could not work out as Tryson was being interviewed by another of this publication’s reporters, Sulu instead invited Tryson to this Thursday’s album launch of his latest release, Syl­labus, to which he offered to buy his “young brother” a suit on condition he brought along his girlfriend.

On the other hand, Tryson said: “I have heard and read about the feud between me and my cousin Sulu, but I would not like to call it that (feud). We talk and relate on some occasions, but I must agree that there is some tension. But I do not really understand where it comes from. I personally have never attacked or blamed anyone for anything. All I have ever done is to play guitars and people have observed me from a distance and have decided to give me a chance. I do not wish to go into conflict with anyone. My focus is on making the Marxist Brothers brand strong.”

He continued: “We rarely visit each other and most of the times that we have met is usually dur­ing family gatherings. However, we have in some instances attended each other’s shows.”

Going forward, the rising dendera musician said people needed to understand that, just like back in the day, dendera music will today have a Naison and a Simon.

“Our traits on stage might be the same, this is because of the roots we share. But it should be noted that I represent Naison and Sulu represents Simon and very little separated the two,” said Tryson.

It is difficult to talk about dendera music without being forced to compare Tryson and Sulu. Though the latter has long been given a place at the top, it is the way Tryson is fast covering ground that has got serious music critics talking. The comparison between Tryson and Sulu has been mainly centred on the duo’s vocals, albums and dancing abilities.

Whilst Sulu took over a well-oiled machine, Orchestra Dendera Kings, Tryson has had to make some adjustments and breathe life into the G7 Commandos, which he later re-named the Marxist Brothers, a name that was used by both Simon and Naison when they were still a formida­ble unit.

Comparatively, whereas Tryson has, to date, released three albums, namely Marxist Revival, Bvamrod and Nguva YaChimbetu (which features Simon Chimbetu), Sulumani has also released three — Ndomusiya Nani, Reverse Deal and Non-stop, with the fourth, Syllabus, set for launch on Thursday.

And whilst Tryson has proved himself capable on both the vocal and dance fronts, in terms of album popularity, he still has much to do as he is not get­ting as much airplay as Sulu. He also still needs to add a bit more swagger to his character.

The two also have almost similar but different catch phrases. While Sulu during his live shows or songs periodically shouts “heya-heya”, Tryson on the other hand shouts “higher-higher”.

When it comes to the pull factor, the younger Tryson, who recently said this was his graduation year after spending close to two years under the wings of Macheso, has not disappointed. Crowds continue to swell at his shows that include Sulu’s traditional venues such as Mushandi­rapamwe and Mega 1, an indication that the young artiste might not be getting it wrong.

“I have been working round the clock in order to present a good outfit and well-knit act to the world. I understand the standards that I have to match and that have sort of acted as a yardstick for me and my group.

“Also the exposure and experience that we gained from Macheso has been very helpful. From the time we started holding our own shows, the attendance has been impressive,” he said. Sunday Mail